The major national angling bodies and fisheries charities operating in England have united to write to the Environment and Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP to demand urgent action to address recent dramatic declines in stocks of salmon and bass, and to ‘shift up a gear’ in delivering improvements to the water environment generally.
The organisations were all represented at the recent Angling Summit, hosted by Defra and organised by the Angling Trust. The event was also attended by senior civil servants including the Head of Sustainable Fisheries and the Head of Water Quality at Defra and the CEO of the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.
In their open letter to the Minister, the organisations call on him to take action to restore fish stocks and to protect the recreational angling industry which contributes £4 billion to the UK economy each year and supports 40,000 jobs. They welcomed his support at the Angling Summit for the development of Fishery Management Plans in each river catchment in England to identify priority actions to restore fish stocks.
In light of public budget cuts, they proposed that he sets out a new strategy that gives organisations in the charitable and not-for-profit sector an increased role in practical works to improve fish stocks such as installing fish passes and restoring degraded habitats. These ‘third-sector’ organisations have demonstrated that they can deliver much more cost-effectively than government agencies and have the ability to secure match funding that can make scarce public funds go much further.
They also highlight the need for farmers to tackle widespread pollution and run-off from fields in return for the £2 billion subsidy they receive each year in Single Farm Payments from the taxpayer. Modern farming practices that cause soil erosion and surface water run-off are increasingly harming wildlife and fisheries, causing flooding in communities and putting costs onto water bills as water companies have to remove soil, pesticides and animal faeces from water for supply.
The organisations have written separate detailed letters to the Minister, pressing him to take urgent action to stop the dramatic declines in bass and salmon stocks.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said:
“We strongly urged the Minister to take a serious grip on the situation facing some of our marine and freshwater fish stocks. Urgent action is required at UK and international levels right now to stop the general malaise of nearly all stocks in recent decades, and the very rapid decline in stocks of bass and salmon in the past few years. The nation’s 3 million anglers are fed up with waiting for government and its agencies to make progress on key issues such as agricultural pollution, over-abstraction of water, unsustainable netting and illegal fishing.”